16-07-08

Sanctuary

"Sometimes, when I think of all the time I have spent not learning to do things ..." W. Faulkner, Sanctuary, Random House (1958), p. 118.


Living is learning. Simple, isn't it? Simple, except in real life where one is expected to perform & when one is caught up in desires or expectations (like rewards for our performance).
Still, when you think of all the time you have spent not learning to do things ... you think of all the time your life was barely different from that of a dog. Waiting to get your bone. Learning is not training. It is discovering things as yet undiscovered with the help of an infinite amount of discoveries made before yours, by others but also by yourself.
That is what makes learning different from performing; learning is its own reward. It enables more learning, better discoveries, going boldly where no one has ever gone before. What´s the use? No use, just more learning. Learning is where risk & reward, effort & expectation bend together into one self-sufficient little knot. Not for benefit of one´s self, not even to benefit others let alone mankind.
The issue of senselessness without after-life, one of Kant´s arguments, can remain an issue only if purpose requires a self as ultimate subject. Learning requires a self but only as coincidental substrate. It doesn´t require the self to get fulfillment of its own efforts; it does not deal reward for merit, it merely wants learning to continue & to knowledge to progress. Learning is a self-fulfilling prophecy. With poetic licence - all learning lives on in further learning.
Obviously, when reality kicks in, things are not that simple. The self is not selfless, like anything else it wants to resist annihilation. But that is a prime area of learning - not only as a phenomenon to be studied but also as a reality check on ourselves. Can we be more than creatures that merely live to continue a certain particular kind of living?


Whilst writing this I was listening to Luz Casal, Best of Luz Casal.

22:51 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: faulkner, self, learning, tones |  Facebook |

04-06-08

Orgasmatron

"I am the one, Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore."


Motorhead, Orgasmatron (1986).


Lest you might think I'm soft.

Popular culture is mostly ridiculed, mainly because it is popular. If embraced, it is rarely really embraced but rather 'indulged in'. Such are the backward ways of those in-the-know, those that are true followers of the spirit of churches (& that nowadays often profess to be atheistic).
It is vain and arrogant to believe truth is restricted to some privileged ways of expression. It is obsequious to submit to what has been established as 'true' standard of what is establishing itself. The implication that one needs agony, that the feeling of pain is a necessary condition, for achieving quality is one of the most clandestine views one can have of human life. It is sadistic & it leads to people that excuse themselves for inflicting pain by reference to some form of sacred agony. Hypocrisy made paramount.
That's our Orgasmatron. We should not be fooled by the persistance of those traditional religions in believing religion still is our Orgasmatron. Religion is on its way out but the Orgasmatron has changed colours, but not its essence. It is there condemning decadence, rewarding merit & promoting misery and self-torture. "Work hard, die old. Fuck talent, as what matters is what others have & the value of what I bring lies in the fact others can't bring it. So, fuck 'em, & let me be fucked for profit!" My name is called merit, sadistic, sacred whore.

Let's not have it.  Let's not play the sycophant and revel in our pain. Enough with achievement, it's time to play.


Whilst writing this I was listening to Augustus Pablo, "Dub, Reggae & Roots From The Melodica King", Ocho (2000).

22:14 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: pop culture, boldness, decadence |  Facebook |

17-05-08

Spinoza's Causal Theory of the Affects

 "(..) it is correct to insist, as Spinoza does (..), that ´the Body cannot determine the Mind in thinking, and the Mind cannot determine the Body to Motion". We should take this to mean that we cannot infer from a cause described in physical terms that a specific mental event will ensue as effect (..): mental and physical concepts belong to independent explanatory systems." D. Davidson in Truth, Language, and History, Oxford University Press (2005), p. 305-306.


I spared me the jargon. The thought that comes can do without. One should  wonder about the mind and the body. It is one of the classical wonders that stays actual. There are those who believe in scientific achievement instead of scientific method; they think the mind & the mental are merely convenient, or just a soft escape for the weak of mind. But the majority is still held - with an extremely wide margin - by those believing the mind is fully detached from all the merely material claims of science, & that deep truths are reserved for the spiritual. Both extremes have been and are instinctively repulsive to me.
The third way, the middle way, the way of Horace is to reconcile mind & body as independent but interconnected. Monism, with a twist, the type of monism Davidson has sought to establish bringing together historical thoughts, & his own modern language philosophy. Can there be 2 spheres that are, at the same time, independent and interconnected? Let me not run of into abstract musings but take my example, from the heart of the present matter.

If one - not just instinctively - thinks one wants to raise one´s arm there is really no issue whatever in connecting that thought to brain activity and that brain activity to activating nerves in turn controlling the arm's muscles. Only those that are ludicrously maintaining knowledge of the Dark Ages outdoes present-day knowledge would challenge this. Let´s not bother here with the ridiculous. The interconnection, some form of physicalism, is established. But the interconnection does not suffice for strict dependence. It would be quite feasible to measure the brain activity during that thought & it would then be quite demonstrable that, even in the same person, that same thought with that same result would not be characterized by exactly the same brain wave activity. As a thought experiment one can very well imagine severe damage to the brain not impairing having that thought and not impairing that thought to lead to the arm raising. If so, and not many people would doubt it enough to actually go to the trouble of doing the experiment, the thought & physical brain activity are not strictly paired. In fact, it is quite sufficient to note that different people can have a similar thought with a similar consequence - this is in itself enough to show that the actual physical brain activity that has to go along with such a thought is not, & cannot be, a determining factor even if, physically speaking, it is always the brain activity that results in the arm's raising (& never the thought itself). We should not be tempted into the futile simple solution of telekinesis.

I am sure Davidson and others would find this reasoning sloppy. It probably is, but I do not have the luxury of refining it. Sloppy or not, it is convincing in illustrating Davidon´s point of there being no strict laws coupling the mental and the physical. As a behaviourist of sorts this kind of illustration is crucial. It does not establish that there is something spiritual that somehow evades or floats over the material world. But it does show that the sphere of thought is not limited to the sphere of what is given physically, it allows for imagination.
The imagination it allows is linguistic & creative. In thinking we cannot realize things in the material world that would go against the physical laws but we can - & do- create in our imagination possible material connections (a key & a lock) that we subsequently can realize materially, as longs as they don´t defy any physical laws. The only limit to this creativity then is what is physically at all possible. Nevertheless, the beauty of language is such that it's physically possible to communicate in it between bodies. There are only linguistic limits to what can be expressed in such communication (we have science fiction to prove we needn´t bother here anymore with physical laws).
Because of this - although for sure I will have to explain this in more detail in another place - I don´t believe Davidson´s brand of monism can be correct. Mental explanation is not merely independent in explanatory ways, it is quite radically independent, a world on its own just needing a physical substratum more or less like fish need a liquid substratum.

Again, establishing the mental, through language, as independent is not at all establishing any spritualist or dualist claim. The physical world has given rise through evolution to biological species with linguistic abilities. Such kind of species have established thought & all things mental. These things do not live isolated from the material world but just happen to be able to express a thing or two without restrictions of the physical world (as long as there is a physical world with the relevant features in which things can be expressed).
So, don´t please go overboard on this: the mind, the spiritual & so on, & so forth did not exist before material things existed. Nor do they exist as long as the material world existed. Physicality predates mentality. It´d be interesting as a scientific exercise to date mentality, it would be a convenient way not to have the New Age´rs go astray time & again.
One may well make stories in which people lift weights merely by thinking to make it so but one will never actually lift those weights in that way.


Whilst writing this I was listening to Shostakovich-Silvestrov, Gryphon Trio, Aline Kutan, Analekta 2006.

(to be redone)

21:49 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: davidson, intention, convergence, tones, language |  Facebook |